Earlham 2, Bluffton 0
April 28, 2015
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Earlham College Quakers took a huge step forward in their pursuit of a berth in the upcoming Heartland Conference tournament with a 2-0 shutout of Bluffton on a beautiful Tuesday, April 28, 2015. The Beavers, who led the HCAC just one week ago following a 12-3 shellacking of these same Quakers, are now on the outside looking in, trailing fourth place Earlham by 1.5 games with just three contests left this weekend. Bluffton stands 20-17 overall and 13-11 in the Heartland Conference following its fourth straight setback, while Earlham improved to 25-10 and more importantly, 14-9 in the HCAC.
Ethan Bailey singled home Matt Barger in the third for an early 1-0 Quaker lead. Thomas Rea ripped a base hit with one down in the fifth and he came around when Brennan Laird tripled into the right field corner, making the score 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
The pitchers continued to dominate as the two teams combined for just eight hits on the day. Michael Alexander (Monroe) led off the bottom of the ninth with a two-bagger, giving the Beaver faithful reason for optimism. However, Earlham went to the bullpen and Garrett York set down three straight Beavers for his third save of the season.
Starter Corey Johnson (Waverly) limited Earlham to two runs on three hits in five innings on the hill. He fanned four and walked two, but fell to 4-2 on the season. Taylor Gambrell (Bowling Green) and Nate Simonds (Ypsilanti, Mich./Lincoln), in his first relief work of the season, combined to toss four innings of shutout ball, keeping the Beavers within striking distance. Gambrell struck out two and Simonds added one strikeout.
Clayton Siders (Delaware/Worthington Christian) and Cody Lehman (Hamilton) notched the only other hits for the home team as Bryce Rainey stayed perfect at 6-0 with his eight-inning effort that saw Bluffton limited to just three paltry hits.
Bluffton will wrap up its regular season when it travels to Lexington, Ky. for a three-game series at Transylvania. The first HCAC contest is slated for 4 p.m. on Friday, May 1. The Beavers need to win two more games than Earlham this weekend for their first-ever berth in the conference tournament.